MADISON – Eventually, even the Democratic Party of Wisconsin says “enough.”
The DPW apparently reached that point – finally – Monday after spokesman Graeme Zielinski on Friday took to Twitter to compare Gov. Scott Walker to cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, following the announcement that the John Doe investigation into the activities of Walker’s former aides and their associates had been closed. Zielinski ultimately took down the tweets and apologized. But it seems, for the DPW, the Twitter rant was the last straw. The party announced Monday that Zielinski is out as spokesman, but will retain a post as media adviser,according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice. But the Walker-Dahmer comparison shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed Zielinski during the time he’s been speaking for the DPW. The Capital Times’ Jack Craver wrote a column about Zielinski’s “combative” attitude. Politifact has rated Zielinski’s comments “Pants on Fire” – twice. Zielinski’s tenure at the DPW has been marked by inaccuracies and rants. Much of his ire has been aimed at Wisconsin Reporteritself. After Zielinski took issue with an article we ran in August 2011, Zielinski threatened to unleash party “activists” on the bureau, including trying to get Wisconsin Reporter’s statehouse press credentials revoked. “What happens next is that I contact the publishers and editors of the papers that publish you as ‘unbiased,’ and let them know our deep concern about the obvious bias that permeates your entire operation,” Zielinski wrote in an email to Wisconsin Reporter bureau chief Matt Kittle at the time. He has kicked Wisconsin Reporter out of a recall training event, barred us from covering the state Democratic Party convention and attempted to keep us out of a presidential campaign event headlined by Vice President Joe Biden. It’s safe to say we won’t miss him. But schadenfreude it isn’t. A strong democracy depends on a healthy exchange of ideas. While likely satisfying many Wisconsin liberals frustrated by the GOP’s control over state politics, Zielinski was a poor salesman for the Democratic Party’s issues and policies. As University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political scientist Joe Heim told us last June, “Spokespersons are supposed to be heard but not seen.” Here’s hoping that Zielinski’s replacement cares more about representing the DPW than making headlines of his or her own.